When he was announcing MTN Rwanda’s partnership with Wikimedia, the owner of the world’s leading online encyclopedia Wikipedia, MTN’s CEO, Ebenezer Asante said “I only had a chance to use a computer on my first job while at the time elsewhere in the world; these devices were being used by all learners.
So making a contribution to easing access to the global chunk of knowledge not only makes business sense but also brings individual pride to all MTN staff; for contributing to improving the lives of our communities.”If it at all communicates anything, Mr. Asante’s statement emphasizes MTN Group’s flagship Corporate Social responsibility undertaking, 21 Days of Y’ello care.
During the course of the three weeks, MTN staff literally work from and with the surrounding communities where the company has operations and in Rwanda just like in any other country where the telecommunications company has presence, the 21 days have been set aside on MTN’s annual calendar since 2006.
Exclusively however, the last three years have seen more focus on the development of quality education for all, as MTN Rwanda staff engaged in various CSR activities under the theme, “Investing in education for all”. By the time this year’s 21 Days of Y’ello Care came to end, MTN staff had set up Childhood Development facilities in 20 schools, trained teachers and learners in ICT and established digital content and libraries for Universities.
Over 500 learners and 200 teachers in high schools benefited from ICT training offered by MTN staff in collaboration with the Rwanda Education Board. The company’s staff also conducted training in cloud computing and virtualisation with university students across the country. Professors and students alike will be able to access these virtual servers via remote connections. The focus on strengthening ICT consciousness among Rwanda’s young generation goes hand in hand with MTN’s current drive towards delivering a bold new digital world to its customers and further contributing towards closing the digital divide in local communities.
Also this year, MTN staff put together over Rwf21 million which is to be used in supporting underprivileged children who because of circumstance, dropped out of school due to insufficient funds. But besides the usual CSR, ‘stage a show and get publicity’ orientation, MTN’s 21 Days of Y’ello Care has something special; the element of sustainability and community capacity building. To the above, the MTN Group and particularly the Rwandan operation, besides regular give away of support on various occasions, takes pride in the sustainable manner with which it engages in sectors like education and health among others.
“The objectives of our volunteer programme are to make a visible and sustained contribution to our society in which we operate and provide an opportunity for MTN staff to actively contribute to community development,” Asante clarified as the company kicked off with this year’s 21 days of supporting development and social wellbeing among Rwandans. Like this year, the 21 Days of Y’ello Care theme in 2012 and 2013 was ‘Investing in Education For all’ while in 2011 it was ‘Fight against Malaria’. In 2013 MTN managed to set up nursery facilities in 10 schools across the country, installed water harvesting facilities in 5 primary/secondary schools across the country, produced and distributed 500 school desks for nursery, primary and secondary schools and renovated 10 schools across the country mostly those affected by heavy rain. For 2013 alone, activities carried during the 21 days of Y’ello care cost over Rwf45 million.
However most impacting than the financial involvement is the human undertaking where otherwise well-to-do members of the community like MTN’s management and staff, take time off their busy schedules to join hands with the community and work towards a common goal. The gesture the move makes for the community and particularly the youngsters cannot be valued, as they get the opportunity to work with the best in their communities thus building their (children) confidence in a possibility for a better tomorrow.
MTN’s support in the education sector over the last three years is recorded at Rwf359,357,645 where activities like giving scholarships to allow access to quality education for 100 underprivileged secondary school going children, building computer labs where more than 540 computers have been distributed in 15 schools across the country and connected more than 12,500 students and 842 teachers on broadband internet to leverage ICT in Education predominantly in rural parts of Rwanda, and enhancing access to information through programs such Tunga TV. Besides contributing in education, MTN’s CSR activities are equally directed into economic empowerment and health projects. Over Rwf49,180,000 has been spent in these areas for the last three years.
The projects indicated are just part of the larger engagement that MTN has in supporting communities in which it operates. Every year, the company allocates 1 percent of its pre-tax profits to the MTN Foundation, which manages the brand’s Corporate Social Responsibility activities.